The New York Times has an interesting opinion piece today by David E RePass. RePass is an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.
RePass’s opinion piece is entitled “Make my Filibuster” and his thesis is simple. Republicans have been repeatedly threatening to filibuster legislation essentially giving a minority veto power to 40 Senators. Yet actual filibusters he says are extremely rare. He says this threat of a filibuster is preventing government from functioning effectively and is really more appropriately called a “phantom filibuster.”
RePass notes that:
“The phantom filibuster is clearly unconstitutional. The founders required a supermajority in only five situations: veto overrides and votes on treaties, constitutional amendments, convictions of impeached officials and expulsions of members of the House or Senate. The Constitution certainly does not call for a supermajority before debate on any controversial measure can begin.
And fixing the problem would not require any change in Senate rules. The phantom filibuster could be done away with overnight by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid. All he needs to do is call the minority’s bluff by bringing a challenged measure to the floor and letting the debate begin.”
I strongly agree with DePass. He suggests that the Democrats would be politically astute if they called the Republicans bluff. Obama is enjoying much public good will, having inherited a disaster of an economy from the Republicans. The Republican mind set of a free market economy and little or no regulation and oversight brought on this current economic nightmare.
Voters clearly said it’s time to change and Republicans still don’t get it. Their answer to the problems is to continue the tried and failed Republican free market economy approach, rather than admit that they failed and brought us this mess. It is a Republican mess and if they want to filibuster Obama’s proposals to try to fix the problem, let them go ahead.
Let them get on the Senate floor and oppose health care legislation and green jobs legislation and regulation for the financial industry and unemployment compensation for the unemployed and mortgage reform and help for homeowners losing their jobs and solutions to deal with climate change. That’s what they’ve been doing for years.
But the public mood has changed. If they didn’t get the message from last November’s election of Obama and the loss of formerly Republican seats in the House and Senate, let them see how Americans feel about their trying to stop Congress and the President from working and doing their job by proposing and passing needed solutions to our current problems.
Americans are tried of naysayers and want our problems solved. Republicans botched the economy and Americans want them to get out of the way and let the President and Congress work to clean up the mess they created. They’ll soon learn that the filibuster approach to solving problems is not one that going to earn them more votes in the next election. It’s time for Reid and the Democrats in the US Senate to call the Republicans bluff on filibustering and move on to working out urgently needed solutions to our pressing problems.